Teams create innovative solutions
in design exercise organized by Shop!
By Jo Rossman
Shop! threw down the gauntlet, and enterprising participants took up the challenge. Often working with people they just met, participants raced to deliver innovative solutions in eight hours. The result: new ways of looking at retail spaces and brand needs.
The charrette-style Shop! Retail Challenge competition took place during the 2019 Shop!X in Atlanta. The program pitted multi disciplinary teams against each other to create fictional concepts for retail spaces or brand activations. Collaborating with Shop! members for the exercise were some 30 brand/retail professionals, recruited with the assistance of the Atlanta Chapter of the Retail Design Institute. Participants were divided into teams, each of which chose a brand or retail problem to address.
Armed with only floor plans and images of a 2,960-sq.-ft. space on the ground floor of 20 Times Square, teams were tasked with imagining a cutting-edge retail experience within that coveted real estate that addressed the identified problem. The competition required solutions to leverage at least one of the six Shop! Future of Retail trends: continuous adaptation, AI and big data, the wow factor in the in-store experience, co-creation and personalization, purpose-driven decisions, or collaboration and alliances.
The program was sponsored by laminate and engineered surface provider Wilsonart, flooring provider Tarkett, and fixture and display systems provider OPTO International. Challenge sponsors served as resources for the teams, advising them on materials for the space. Following video presentations from the teams, concepts were judged by a multidisciplinary panel: Bruce Barteldt of Little, Sally Chavez of Wilsonart, Scott Swaebe of Cricket Wireless, and Jill Hellman of The Strategy Lab. Judges looked at business value, innovation, trends, sustainability, design quality, materials, and presentation.
The exercise gave designers a chance to show off their creative skills, and participants gleaned new perspective by working alongside other disciplines. The program also served as professional development for design firms’ junior staff members while affording them a chance to get up close and personal with retailers. Some brand and retail participants even walked away with ideas to take back to the office. Depicted here are the concepts envisioned by the Challenge teams. Concepts are not endorsed by the brands depicted.
GOLD WINNER: Westin/Marriott’s The Well
This popup concept would test a new lobby experience that positions Westin as the preeminent well-being brand to build customer loyalty and a connected community. Designed to attract both brand loyalists and new customers, it would generate revenue streams from the local community. A wellness experience integrating biophilic design would center around opportunities to integrate water and hydration into a guest’s life. The sensory experience would create a rejuvenating tranquil respite amid the cacophony of Times Square through the use of natural materials including living walls, filtered lighting, a customizable flavored-water refreshment experience, and a rotating fitness experience including luxurious changing rooms and active apparel provided by retail partners.
Inspired by a natural spring, “The Well” would offer a veritable fountain of youth through a multitap water offering, including such options as still, sparkling, caffeine-infused, and vitamin-enhanced. As the guest approaches The Well, educational messaging projected onto the floor would describe the wellness benefits of hydration and the importance of protecting our natural water sources.
This amenity experience would drive new user groups to the space in order to convert them to Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program members. The AI-enhanced fitness experience would evoke guests’ favorite fitness activities within the context of an exotic water-focused travel locale served by a Marriott property. Guests could pay for their experience with Marriott Bonvoy points or earn new points through their engagement.
Serving on the team were Lauren Hal, The Beam Team; James Horman, Progressive AE; Angela Kuzma, Marriott International; Ken Li, Pretty Sun Optoelectronic Co.; Ty Moddelmog, Home Depot; Ed Tchai, Tchai International; and Rachel Zsembery, Bergmeyer Associates.
SILVER WINNER: Gallo RITUAL
This flagship would introduce E&J Gallo Winery’s premium wines to new audiences by bringing people together to celebrate life’s memorable moments. Based on universal everyday rituals rather than culturally specifi c holidays or culinary-based pairings, the concept would appeal to a global audience and encourage frequent consumption. “RITUAL” would be a place for everyday stories to be told and new traditions created. The experience would include respite, learning, entertainment, and grab and go, maximizing relevance and traffi c capture of locals and tourists alike.
Upon entering, guests would be welcomed by the house sommelier, who could guide them through an AI-driven product recommendation engine. The transitioning of materials in Tarkett fl ooring would tell the story of a grape from sand to vine to table. Curated, dynamically rotating vignettes would inspire wine for new beginnings, bittersweet sendoffs, and moving moments in between. A repurposed trellis adorned with vines emulating Sonoma Valley would pull guests to the back of the space, where custom Wilsonart surfaces inspired by vintage materials would top dining tables for a chef-led tasting.
Furnishings and accessories by fixture manufacturer OPTO International and Detroit-based retailer Shinola, including reclaimed material community tables, aged-leather lounge seating, and handmade bottle carriers for purchases to go, would evoke masterful craftsmanship. Modular reconfiguration of the space would enable rotating experiences. In-house connoisseurs would invite guests each week for a new kitchen takeover and another excuse to celebrate. Guests could discover new favorites and enroll in the monthly subscription wine club, purchase personalized Shinola wine merchandise, or download the RITUAL app to receive pairing recommendations from the Gallo connoisseur community.
Serving on the team were Kevin Brown, Stylmark; Lora Child, IA Interior Architects; Leah Cotterman, WD Partners; John Jaffke, DJJ Group; Kevin Kelly, EMI Industries; Kent Rollins, Nashville Display; and Brian Sturkie, E&J Gallo Winery.
BRONZE WINNER: Coca-Cola World Without Waste
This multisensory experience would educate consumers and bring awareness of the brand’s sustainability goals and social responsibility. The interactive space would allow guests to participate in activities to encourage thought and inspire realworld action. Coca-Cola’s current global initiatives in social responsibility would be highlighted. A VR experience would educate guests on the recycling process and its benefits, while the use of recycled materials would carry the theme throughout the space. Actionable social media opportunities would be included throughout the space.
Serving on the team were Rachel Harrington, Home Depot; Chris Landing, APPI Energy; Eric Lawler, Bish Creative Display; Allen Plaugh, Miller Zell; Ashley Plaugh, Pivotal Retail Group; Jennifer Tucker, Octanorm; and Brad Williams, Coca-Cola.
OTHER INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS
Both judges and ShopX attendees were impressed with what teams were able to accomplish in such a short time. Here are a few of the other concepts conceived by Challenge teams.
This live party experience would showcase the brand’s full range of products and services, repositioning it from a warehouse-style retailer to a party-planning company. Alleviating the stress that research has shown customers feel when planning parties, a co-host would help customers with planning details. A party zone, changing weekly, would feature inspirational merchandise and allow customers to test and try products. An imagination zone with interactive digital screens would show optimal results. A service zone would handle purchases and schedule deliveries.
This experience would boost the brand’s wow factor to make it more attractive to airport landlords while marketing to a new audience. Exterior screens would mirror passersby, showing them in No Boundaries attire. Inside, seasonal zones include interactive experiences, such as the winter room whose cold temperature allow customers to test outerwear.
With activities to help customers envision their dream project at oversized inter active tables shaped like The Home Depot buckets, this space would help customers produce a shopping list for the project and order the items online. A wall of bucket lids personalized with customers’ project dreams would inspire others. A digital display would highlight how The Home Depot gives back to help communities recover, and an interactive experience would allow customers to choose which disaster they want to aid.
The Home Depot/Chick-fil-A Table Event
Reflecting the two Atlanta-based brands’ missions, “Doing Good” and “Giving Back,” this immersive experience would build the world’s longest table while providing 10,000 meals for local community services. In a park setting, customers would help assemble and personalize tables to be placed end to end for the record. A living wall would include herbs to be harvested for meals. After the event, the individual tables would be donated to city parks and communities.